Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Hay Festival

Several years ago I walked the length of Offa's Dyke with a friend. We were at school and did the southern half one summer holiday, and the rest the next after we had finished our A-Levels. The Welsh Marches - the frontier between England and Wales that the dyke originally delineated and which was then fortified by castles in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries - are undoubtedly my favourite part of lowland Britain. In March 1188 Gerald of Wales came through the border town of Hay-on-Wye with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was on a recruiting tour for the Crusades; Jerusalem had been captured by the Turks the previous year. Gerald recorded that "we saw a great number of men who wanted to take the Cross come running towards the castle where the Archbishop was, leaving their cloaks behind in the hands of their wives and friends who had tried to hold them back."

I'm really pleased that I've been invited to speak at this year's Hay Festival. I'll be talking about the book on Sunday 3 June, the Festival's last day, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it.

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